So, I just finished re-reading my notes from last week’s Food and Light workshop. Why? Because it was AMAZING, and I want to transport myself back to Boulder and all of the wonderful people I met. I like to fancy myself a city girl, but I would make a trip back to Boulder in a New York minute! I loved the small-town, college feel of both Boulder and Denver; in fact, they reminded me a lot of Ann Arbor, MI, which I haven’t visited since finishing graduate school over a decade ago. Yikes! I’m getting old… Anyway, I loved being able to walk everywhere during my vacation. Also, it’s great that you can rent a bike to get around town, too.
We spent the first part of our trip in Denver. I’m totally kicking myself for not taking many pictures the first couple of days. I was feeling a bit intimidated about my upcoming workshop and told myself that it was better for me to just relax. However, please take my word for it that you should dine at both Osteria Marco and Snooze and check out the Heavy Heavys at El Chapultepec on Saturday night. After spending two days in Denver eating, shopping, and experiencing the local music scene, we headed to Boulder.
If you are ever in Boulder, you must stay at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa. It is a bit of a splurge, but the staff is wonderful, the beds are comfy, and the view is breathtaking. See for yourself!
Once we made it to Boulder, we continued our tour of good eating at SALT. I had the shrimp and calamari po’ boy, and it was quite yummy! I loved all of the details in the restaurant and was so happy that the restaurant staff didn’t look at me crazy with all of my picture taking.
Finally, it was time for the Food and Light workshop at the Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery, and I was sooo nervous. I’m talking upset stomach and everything! I had checked out some of the other participants’ blogs prior to my arrival, and I was feeling a bit like I didn’t quite belong. I mean, these people were actual food bloggers. Not, “here are some pictures of some cookies I made last year for Thanksgiving” bloggers, but actual “here are some savory or sweet or somewhere in between tasty delights that I make on a regular basis and of which I take beautiful photos” bloggers. Yep! I was intimidated. But, it turns out that I was worried for no reason. Everyone was completely open and friendly, and some people were feeling a little vulnerable like me, too!
Once I met the instructors, I felt completely at ease! If you ever have the opportunity to learn from these folks, do not hesitate. I am so glad that I did not miss out on this opportunity! Jen, Matt, Diane, and Todd are truly some of the most genuine, gifted, and giving souls you will ever meet. They gave honest and gentle feedback, shared stories about their journeys, and gave solid and valuable instruction about food photography. Allow me to make a few quick introductions…
Meet Jen of use real butter. She’s the creative mind behind this venture. She started the day talking about creating a photo all the way from planning to post processing. I’ve been thinking since the workshop that I need to spend more time planning my shoots to really bump up the creativity factor. Jen also covered some photography basics, such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
And, here’s Matt of WrightFood. I was mesmerized by his English accent the whole two days. I had been looking forward to meeting him after purchasing his book a few months ago, and he did not disappoint. (By the way, you should purchase his book to help support the relief efforts in Japan.) Matt taught us about using directional light (e.g., side lighting, back lighting) to create interesting shadows and contrast. We also learned about using various composition rules and camera angles to tell a story. I need to remind myself to try the “triangular composition” that Matt shared with us.
Finally, allow me to introduce you to Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple. Seriously, are they not the cutest couple ever?! I knew we were going to get along right away when they mentioned shopping at Papyrus, my go-to store for hand-written notes. They covered food styling and shared some tips for making sure that your focus stays on the “hero” or “beauty,” which Matt referred to as the “star” in his session. Diane and Todd also shared some secrets about where they find affordable props and backgrounds. A trip to my local hardware store is on my list of things to do. Watch out HGTV!
After the morning instruction, we were let loose on the food and prop tables. After some trial and error (and some much needed guidance), I came away with some nice shots, including my award-winning carrots for the “mood” category. I won a KitchenAid mixer…Yay!
I was really drawn to this red cabbage and had no idea how to present it. Maybe just nicely arrange it on a white plate (see bottom right)? Diane then offered her assistance and casually said something like, “What if you cut it into triangles and ribboned the edge? Wouldn’t that be great?” “Why, yes, yes it would.” And, voila! It was magically transformed into the image on the left.
Day 1 of the workshop was the perfect experience. I felt completely drained yet energized at the same time. I couldn’t believe that I was going to have the chance to spend another day with the whole Food and Light crew. During Day 2, we broke into small groups to rotate through sessions on artificial lighting, restaurant shooting, and post-processing. It was great being able to ask questions and get to know the instructors better.
After the morning sessions, we had a family-style lunch at The Kitchen [Upstairs], the community bistro that sponsored Day 2 of our workshop. Yes, the food tasted as good as it looks. And, the chocolate mousse and eton mess were divine!
Keep your eye out for the next Food and Light workshop (or any workshops taught by Jen, Diane, Todd, and/or Matt). You will leave as not only a better photographer, but a better person. I actually cried real tears on the last day.